Last month I attended an awards ceremony at Search for Common Ground, an organization that works to end violence through dialogue, media, and community programs. They had some amazing people receiving awards; one was Scarlett Lewis, a woman who lost her 6 year-old son Jesse in the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary school on December 14, 2012.
I was, as most of us were, horror stuck to hear of another violent madman taking innocent lives that day 2 years ago. My heart went out to the families who had to face this. And the way, Ms. Lewis faced this was remarkable and immediate. At his funeral she spoke the following words:
“People have been asking me since the tragedy what they can do to help. If you really want to do something to help, then do something that will help all of us by turning an angry thought into a loving one. This whole tragedy began with an angry thought, and that thought could have been changed to a loving one. If it had been, none of us would be here today to bury a child we all loved so much. So if you want to do something to help, then do what Jesse would have wanted you to do to honor his memory- take one angry thought you have each day and turn it into a loving one…and with one loving thought at a time, we will change the world and make it a better, safer place for our children and our children’s children. If you want to help, please choose love.”
As it happened I started to read her book Nurturing, Healing, Love on the second anniversary of this event. It wasn’t planned to commemorate the event. It wasn’t until I looked at the date on the page that I realized the timing. It’s a book of more courage than grief, more compassion than pain, and then more love than anything else. She doesn’t minimize the pain that she has been in but found a clear and clean way to make something out of this tragedy that can help us all in our communities. Her faith in the Divine and God was mostly unwavering. The message is worth the reading.